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“P” is for Pets

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Still working my way through the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Stick with me!

Making travel decisions and arrangements can be difficult for pet owners, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. People feel strongly about their pets- our dogs, cats and hedgehogs can often feel like a member of the family. We don’t want to leave them behind, but we realize that not all pets are happy travellers all of the time. How we handle this is going to depend on the pet, the destination, the type of travel involved and a number of other factors. And even when you’ve got it all figured out, things can go awry; remember what happened to Jann Arden not too long ago?

Essentially, you usually have three or four main options:

  1. Bring your pet with you
  2. Board the pet at a facility, either at home or at your destination
  3. Hire a pet sitter
  4. Leave your pet with a friend or relative

We’ve taken the dog with us on several trips, but only those trips where we were camping or cottaging, or staying with relatives. Generally, it’s gone well, and we’ve been pleasantly surprised by how many tourist-driven towns are dog-friendly. Several times, winding our way down the main street on foot, we’ve left one of our party outside with the dog, only to have store keepers come out and tell us we can bring the dog in, since we’re carrying him. Go North Bay, Fenelon Falls, Bracebridge and Muskoka! My daughter tells me that in Paris and Rome it was very common to see dogs accompanying their owners – unleashed, even!

Watching a city dog take on the cottage was a treat too -he was overwhelmed with all the squirrels there were to chase, the dirt there was to roll in, and the water there was to swim in. And when he’d had enough of the day, he figured out how to nose the zipper of the tent open and crawl on into bed! And he LOVES riding in the car, probably because we took him on an 8-hour drive only a week after getting him.

We did stay in a motel with him one night once, and that didn’t go as well. He had a tendency to sit at the door and howl. When we’ve gone places we couldn’t take him, we’ve been lucky enough to have a relative that will let him come to stay. Likewise the parakeet- a neighbour child is happy to bring him home for a week for $10.

Flying, or taking the bus or train with your pet can be complicated and costly – always find out the details well ahead of time.

If you’re going to leave your pet at a kennel, investigate ahead of time. There may be specific vaccinations necessary, or other arrangements you need to make first. And ask lots of questions to get familiar with the facility. There are some very, very nice facilities available; the new ones at Walt Disney World cost more per night than several of the people-resorts.

Remember too that your pet may behave differently away from home – see the aforementioned howling. No matter how well-trained your pet is, he can surprise you. I recall a very frightening moment in a parking lot when the dog bolted from the van before we could get his leash attached.

Petfriendly.ca has a very helpful database of articles relating to traveling with your pet. Be sure to check it out! Having a pet doesn’t have to stop you from traveling, it just adds something to the planning and preparation.

Do you travel with your pet? What are some of the things you’ve learned along the way?